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New extradition push for NZ refugee

Sunday 21 Apr 2013 9:13a.m.

New extradition push for NZ refugee

Prosecutors are making a renewed push to extradite a New Zealand-based refugee to Australia to face people-smuggling charges over the drowning deaths of 353 asylum seekers.

Iraqi-born Maythem Kamil Radhi was one of three alleged organisers of the voyage of the Siev X, a small and overcrowded boat that sank off the coast of Indonesia while bound for Australia in October 2001.

Radhi, who was granted UN refugee status before the sinking, has lived in New Zealand since 2009 with his wife and children.

In 2011, the Brisbane Magistrates Court issued an arrest warrant for him, alleging his involvement in people-smuggling.

Police allege Radhi was in charge of passenger fares for those on board the Siev X and helped them board the vessel.

In March 2012, a District Court judge said he could be arrested by New Zealand police to face charges in Australia.

But that decision was overturned by High Court Justice Edwin Wylie in February, following an appeal by Radhi.

Justice Wylie said Radhi could not be extradited because if his alleged offence had occurred within New Zealand jurisdiction, it would not have been punishable by more than a year's imprisonment.

Under the provision of the Extradition Act, the alleged offence must carry a maximum penalty of at least 12 months' jail for the person to be eligible for extradition.

At the time of the Siev X sinking, the maximum penalty in New Zealand for people smuggling was three months' imprisonment. Under a new law brought in last year, offenders face up to 20 years in jail and a $500,000 fine.

Crown prosecutor Christine Gordon, QC, told the Herald on Sunday she has applied to appeal the High Court decision.

Radhi's lawyer Roger Chambers plans to oppose the application.

Two other men are serving prison sentences for their roles in the Siev X incident. Khaleed Daoed is serving a nine-year sentence in a Queensland prison for people smuggling after a 2005 conviction, and Abu Quassey was sentenced to seven years in an Egyptian jail.

NZN

 
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